Fettuccine alle Verdure Autunnali -- or what to do with these wonderful seasonal veggies
Nov. 7, 2012 1:55 pm
Updated: Nov. 7, 2012 1:57 pm
Dinner in our house on weekdays typically go like this: Hmmm... what should I do with this 'xyz' that I have. It's like a Sicilian way of cooking which is more about what's directly on hand and what can be made from it rather than picking a recipe and
then hoofing off to the store to buy the ingredients. So here we are, lots of good autumn veggies coming to us from our CSA box, fresh off the farm so to speak. A pasta with autumn vegetables. Sounds good!
This dish will use several varieties of vegetable picked to compliment and offset each other's taste. Cauliflower and broccoli from the cabbage family, swiss chard (leaves only), asparagus spears, scallions and petite green peas. The peas and asparagus really
accent the taste of the cauliflower and broccoli. In addition, when using the peas I tend to use much less (or no) salt because of the flavor they bring. The vegetables will also be flavored with about 2 ounces of prosciutto and a small amount of a stock,
reduced to tossing consistency.
Start by cutting up about 2-3 ounces of imported prosciutto, or if you prefer you can substitute pancetta, or if you're really brave, guanciale. Personally I think prosciutto works best. Cut into 1/4-1/2" strips of about an inch in length. Set aside.
Trim the leaves from about a half bunch of swiss chard (I had red chard on hand) and then cut crosswise into 1" strips. Don't just throw away the stalks by the way. There's a whole lot of interesting, tasty recipes for the stalks! Cut the asparagus spears into
1 inch pieces discarding the white ends. Combine the chard and asparagus in a bowl.
Cut about 5 scallions crosswise in small 1/8" rings all the way from the white ends to the green, part of the way up the stalk into the hollow green part. Add to that 1/4" of a medium onion chopped fine.
Using a half of head of cauliflower and broccoli, cut into florets and set aside keeping the broccoli and cauliflower separate.
Get 1 cup of frozen petite peas ready as well as 1 or more cups of chicken or beef stock.
First we are going to prepare the cauliflower and broccoli. Bring a small pot of water to boil, add coarse sea salt. The cauliflower will cook for around 3 minutes, the broccoli for 2. So, add the cauliflower, set a timer for 3 minutes. After a minute, add
the broccoli. Drain the cauliflower and broccoli after the cook time and run some cold water over them to halt the cooking. Cut the cauliflower florets into small pieces, the broccoli can be cut larger. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat up 4 TBSPs of olive oil, then add 2 TBSPs of unsalted butter. Saute the prosciutto for a few minutes for the fat to render and then add the scallions and onion to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes allowing the onion to become translucent
but not brown. Now add the cauliflower and broccoli and mix well to coat with oil. Saute for two minutes then add the asparagus spears and saute two more minutes. Add the peas, mix all the ingredients well and then cover the ingredients in the pan with the
swiss chard. Add 1 cup of stock, bring quickly to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for around 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and season with fresh ground pepper and just a little or no salt. You're better off tasting for salt at the end since the veggies
themselves add a lot of flavor. If you need to you can add a bit more stock but you probably won't have to.
In the meantime, bring a pot of pasta water to boil. Add salt. Cook according to box directions, timing the cooked pasta to coincide with the readiness of the veggies. Don't cook until tender, leave the pasta al dente because you will mix with the veggie sauce
and cook another minute.
Now take the lid off the sauce pan and reduce the liquid in the pan to tossing consistency, mixing with a wooden spoon. When ready add the drained pasta to the pan, mix very well and cook for one minute more.
Plate the pasta making sure to scoop up the yummy veggies and if desired garnish with cheese. In Northern Italy you wouldn't add any cheese to a dish like this, southern Italians don't care so much. I prefer pecorino on mine.
Fettuccine alle Verdure Autunnali
Sauteing the vegetable mix with prosciutto and scallions